Living a Gluten Free and Casein Free Lifestyle Benefits an Autistic Child

by on August 3rd, 2010
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“Mommy, my tummy hurts!” “I have a headache!” “I don’t feel good.” “I can’t go to school today.” When you hear these statements, it is sometimes safe to assume your child is using the age old trick to play hooky for the day. The truth is that many children actually feel bad and can’t figure out a way to communicate their feelings with their parents. Eating gluten free and casein free is beneficial to an autistic child. Many children that suffer from autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, experience difficulty with digestion. This results in abdominal pain and headaches for the child. These issues inside their body make it even harder for them to concentrate. These children unfortunately have no way of communicating these feelings because part of ASD is underdeveloped speech and language. Many parents have seen results anywhere from a mild change in their child all the way to a child that shows no signs of autism since adopting a gluten free and casein free diet.

In order to understand a gluten free and casein free (GFCF) diet you must first understand gluten and casein. As explained by the GFCF Diet Information website: Gluten is a naturally occurring protein. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, oats, rye, cereals, candies and lots of packaged foods since gluten as used as a binding agent. Gluten has been linked to increased peptide levels in the urine of autistic children. What this means is that these children are not breaking down these foods as well as those who are not autistic. These peptides can cross the blood line barrier and become toxic and have an opioid effect on the child’s brain. Now that you understand gluten, let’s move on to casein.

Casein is not a word you hear every day but there are many foods which contain casein. Casein is also a naturally occurring protein. Casein is found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, butter, cereals and candies. Casein has also been found to produce higher levels of peptides in autistic children and act as opiates. These peptides then cause the body to experience a euphoric feeling such as what is experienced when taking the drugs morphine and heroin which are also opiates. Now that you have learned what these products are and what they do to your body let’s discuss what happens when you eliminate these foods from your diet.

AutismWeb is a great resource for all things about Autism. On their diet page you can read about parents who have used this diet to lessen or completely relieve autism symptoms in their children. Parents, doctors and researchers show that children who eliminate gluten and casein from their diet have shown improvement in speech and behavior. Children with ASD are more likely to have gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. ASD children show fewer bouts of diarrhea and/or constipation after removing these substances from their diets. Research shows that those with ASD cannot properly digest gluten and casein which produces those peptides we discussed earlier. When these peptides are present in the child’s body, they experience difficulty in regulating their behavior, perception and responses to the environment. By eliminating these substances, the child can begin to rationalize their thoughts.

Would you want your child doped up on morphine or heroin? The likely answer is no. These substances produce the same feeling in your child every day. So the next time you prepare a meal for an autistic child, ask yourself if you want to include any drugs as a side dish. If you wouldn’t hand your child drugs, you shouldn’t introduce these harmful opiates into their little bodies. Eliminating gluten and casein from your child’s diet is the first step to a healthier, happier, well behaved, more productive child. Many people, like me, have never heard of gluten or casein and struggle day in and day out trying to find SOMETHING to help their child. The suffering could end for both children and their families by gaining proper education on the matter. Do some additional research and educate yourself on how living gluten and casein free can help your child. You are your child’s first teacher, if you aren’t educated, how can you teach your children?


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